Alexander Pope Essay On Man Epistle 4

Awake, my St. John! leave all meaner things

To low ambition, and the pride of kings.

Let us (since life can little more supply

Than just to look about us and to die)

Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man;

A mighty maze! but not without a plan;

A wild, where weeds and flow'rs promiscuous shoot;

Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.

Together let us beat this ample field,

Try what the open, what the covert yield;

The latent tracts, the giddy heights explore

Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;

Eye Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,

And catch the manners living as they rise;

Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;

But vindicate the ways of God to man.

I.

Say first, of God above, or man below,

What can we reason, but from what we know?

Of man what see we, but his station here,

From which to reason, or to which refer?

Through worlds unnumber'd though the God be known,

'Tis ours to trace him only in our own.

He, who through vast immensity can pierce,

See worlds on worlds compose one universe,

Observe how system into system runs,

What other planets circle other suns,

What varied being peoples ev'ry star,

May tell why Heav'n has made us as we are.

But of this frame the bearings, and the ties,

The strong connections, nice dependencies,

Gradations just, has thy pervading soul

Look'd through? or can a part contain the whole?

Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,

And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?

II.

Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou find,

Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind?

First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,

Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less!

Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made

Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade?

Or ask of yonder argent fields above,

Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove?

Of systems possible, if 'tis confest

That Wisdom infinite must form the best,

Where all must full or not coherent be,

And all that rises, rise in due degree;

Then, in the scale of reas'ning life, 'tis plain

There must be somewhere, such a rank as man:

And all the question (wrangle e'er so long)

Is only this, if God has plac'd him wrong?

Respecting man, whatever wrong we call,

May, must be right, as relative to all.

In human works, though labour'd on with pain,

A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;

In God's, one single can its end produce;

Yet serves to second too some other use.

So man, who here seems principal alone,

Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,

Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal;

'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.

When the proud steed shall know why man restrains

His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains:

When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,

Is now a victim, and now Egypt's God:

Then shall man's pride and dulness comprehend

His actions', passions', being's, use and end;

Why doing, suff'ring, check'd, impell'd; and why

This hour a slave, the next a deity.

Then say not man's imperfect, Heav'n in fault;

Say rather, man's as perfect as he ought:

His knowledge measur'd to his state and place,

His time a moment, and a point his space.

If to be perfect in a certain sphere,

What matter, soon or late, or here or there?

The blest today is as completely so,

As who began a thousand years ago.

III.

Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of fate,

All but the page prescrib'd, their present state:

From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:

Or who could suffer being here below?

The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed today,

Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?

Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flow'ry food,

And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.

Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv'n,

That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heav'n:

Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,

A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,

Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,

And now a bubble burst, and now a world.

Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;

Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore!

What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,

But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:

Man never is, but always to be blest:

The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutor'd mind

Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;

His soul, proud science never taught to stray

Far as the solar walk, or milky way;

Yet simple nature to his hope has giv'n,

Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav'n;

Some safer world in depth of woods embrac'd,

Some happier island in the wat'ry waste,

Where slaves once more their native land behold,

No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold.

To be, contents his natural desire,

He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire;

But thinks, admitted to that equal sky,

His faithful dog shall bear him company.

IV.

Go, wiser thou! and, in thy scale of sense

Weigh thy opinion against Providence;

Call imperfection what thou fanciest such,

Say, here he gives too little, there too much:

Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,

Yet cry, if man's unhappy, God's unjust;

If man alone engross not Heav'n's high care,

Alone made perfect here, immortal there:

Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,

Rejudge his justice, be the God of God.

In pride, in reas'ning pride, our error lies;

All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.

Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,

Men would be angels, angels would be gods.

Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell,

Aspiring to be angels, men rebel:

And who but wishes to invert the laws

Of order, sins against th' Eternal Cause.

V.

Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine,

Earth for whose use? Pride answers, " 'Tis for mine:

For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow'r,

Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev'ry flow'r;

Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew,

The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew;

For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings;

For me, health gushes from a thousand springs;

Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;

My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies."

But errs not Nature from this gracious end,

From burning suns when livid deaths descend,

When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep

Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep?

"No, ('tis replied) the first Almighty Cause

Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral laws;

Th' exceptions few; some change since all began:

And what created perfect?"—Why then man?

If the great end be human happiness,

Then Nature deviates; and can man do less?

As much that end a constant course requires

Of show'rs and sunshine, as of man's desires;

As much eternal springs and cloudless skies,

As men for ever temp'rate, calm, and wise.

If plagues or earthquakes break not Heav'n's design,

Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline?

Who knows but he, whose hand the lightning forms,

Who heaves old ocean, and who wings the storms,

Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind,

Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind?

From pride, from pride, our very reas'ning springs;

Account for moral, as for nat'ral things:

Why charge we Heav'n in those, in these acquit?

In both, to reason right is to submit.

Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,

Were there all harmony, all virtue here;

That never air or ocean felt the wind;

That never passion discompos'd the mind.

But ALL subsists by elemental strife;

And passions are the elements of life.

The gen'ral order, since the whole began,

Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.

VI.

What would this man? Now upward will he soar,

And little less than angel, would be more;

Now looking downwards, just as griev'd appears

To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears.

Made for his use all creatures if he call,

Say what their use, had he the pow'rs of all?

Nature to these, without profusion, kind,

The proper organs, proper pow'rs assign'd;

Each seeming want compensated of course,

Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force;

All in exact proportion to the state;

Nothing to add, and nothing to abate.

Each beast, each insect, happy in its own:

Is Heav'n unkind to man, and man alone?

Shall he alone, whom rational we call,

Be pleas'd with nothing, if not bless'd with all?

The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find)

Is not to act or think beyond mankind;

No pow'rs of body or of soul to share,

But what his nature and his state can bear.

Why has not man a microscopic eye?

For this plain reason, man is not a fly.

Say what the use, were finer optics giv'n,

T' inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav'n?

Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,

To smart and agonize at ev'ry pore?

Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,

Die of a rose in aromatic pain?

If nature thunder'd in his op'ning ears,

And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,

How would he wish that Heav'n had left him still

The whisp'ring zephyr, and the purling rill?

Who finds not Providence all good and wise,

Alike in what it gives, and what denies?

VII.

Far as creation's ample range extends,

The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends:

Mark how it mounts, to man's imperial race,

From the green myriads in the peopled grass:

What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,

The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's beam:

Of smell, the headlong lioness between,

And hound sagacious on the tainted green:

Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood,

To that which warbles through the vernal wood:

The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!

Feels at each thread, and lives along the line:

In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true

From pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew:

How instinct varies in the grov'lling swine,

Compar'd, half-reas'ning elephant, with thine:

'Twixt that, and reason, what a nice barrier;

For ever sep'rate, yet for ever near!

Remembrance and reflection how allied;

What thin partitions sense from thought divide:

And middle natures, how they long to join,

Yet never pass th' insuperable line!

Without this just gradation, could they be

Subjected, these to those, or all to thee?

The pow'rs of all subdu'd by thee alone,

Is not thy reason all these pow'rs in one?

VIII.

See, through this air, this ocean, and this earth,

All matter quick, and bursting into birth.

Above, how high, progressive life may go!

Around, how wide! how deep extend below!

Vast chain of being, which from God began,

Natures ethereal, human, angel, man,

Beast, bird, fish, insect! what no eye can see,

No glass can reach! from infinite to thee,

From thee to nothing!—On superior pow'rs

Were we to press, inferior might on ours:

Or in the full creation leave a void,

Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd:

From nature's chain whatever link you strike,

Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.

And, if each system in gradation roll

Alike essential to th' amazing whole,

The least confusion but in one, not all

That system only, but the whole must fall.

Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly,

Planets and suns run lawless through the sky;

Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl'd,

Being on being wreck'd, and world on world;

Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod,

And nature tremble to the throne of God.

All this dread order break—for whom? for thee?

Vile worm!—Oh madness, pride, impiety!

IX.

What if the foot ordain'd the dust to tread,

Or hand to toil, aspir'd to be the head?

What if the head, the eye, or ear repin'd

To serve mere engines to the ruling mind?

Just as absurd for any part to claim

To be another, in this gen'ral frame:

Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains,

The great directing Mind of All ordains.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,

Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;

That, chang'd through all, and yet in all the same,

Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame,

Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,

Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,

Lives through all life, extends through all extent,

Spreads undivided, operates unspent,

Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,

As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;

As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns,

As the rapt seraph that adores and burns;

To him no high, no low, no great, no small;

He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.

X.

Cease then, nor order imperfection name:

Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.

Know thy own point: This kind, this due degree

Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee.

Submit.—In this, or any other sphere,

Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:

Safe in the hand of one disposing pow'r,

Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.

All nature is but art, unknown to thee;

All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;

All discord, harmony, not understood;

All partial evil, universal good:

And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,

One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.

   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  
 
 
 
 
 
O Happiness! our being’s end and aim!
Good, pleasure, ease, content! whate’er thy name:
That something still which prompts th’ eternal sigh,
For which we bear to live, or dare to die,
Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies,
O’er-look’d, seen double, by the fool, and wise.
Plant of celestial seed! if dropt below,
Say, in what mortal soil thou deign’st to grow?
Fair op’ning to some court’s propitious shine,
Or deep with di’monds in the flaming mine?
Twin’d with the wreaths Parnassian laurels yield,
  Or reap’d in iron harvests of the field?
Where grows?—where grows it not? If vain our toil,
We ought to blame the culture, not the soil:
Fix’d to no spot is happiness sincere,
’Tis nowhere to be found, or ev’rywhere:
’Tis never to be bought, but always free,
And fled from monarchs, St. John! dwells with thee.
  Ask of the learn’d the way? The learn’d are blind;
This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind;
Some place the bliss in action, some in ease,
Those call it pleasure, and contentment these;
Some sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain;
Some swell’d to gods, confess e’en virtue vain;
Or indolent, to each extreme they fall,
To trust in ev’ry thing, or doubt of all.
  Who thus define it, say they more or less
Than this, that happiness is happiness?
  Take nature’s path, and mad opinion’s leave;
All states can reach it, and all heads conceive;
Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell;
There needs but thinking right, and meaning well;
And mourn our various portions as we please,
Equal is common sense, and common ease.
  Remember, man, ‘The universal cause
Acts not by partial, but by gen’ral laws’;
And makes what happiness we justly call
Subsist not in the good of one, but all.
There’s not a blessing individuals find,
But some way leans and hearkens to the kind:
No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride,
No cavern’d hermit, rests self-satisfy’d:
Who most to shun or hate mankind pretend,
Seek an admirer, or who would fix a friend:
Abstract what others feel, what others think,
All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink:
Each has his share; and who would more obtain,
Shall find the pleasure pays not half the pain.
  Order is heav’n’s first law; and this confest,
Some are, and must be, greater than the rest,
More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence
That such are happier, shocks all common sense.
Heav’n to mankind impartial we confess,
If all are equal in their happiness:
But mutual wants this happiness increase;
All nature’s diff’rence keeps all nature’s peace.
Condition, circumstance is not the thing;
Bliss is the same in subject or in king,
In who obtain defence, or who defend,
In him who is, or him who finds a friend:
Heav’n breathes thro’ ev’ry member of the whole
One common blessing, as one common soul.
But fortune’s gifts if each alike possest,
And each were equal, must not all contest?
If then to all men happiness was meant,
God in externals could not place content.
  Fortune her gifts may variously dispose,
And these be happy call’d, unhappy those;
But heav’n’s just balance equal will appear,
While those are plac’d in hope, and these in fear:
Not present good or ill, the joy or curse,
But future views of better, or of worse.
Oh sons of earth! attempt ye still to rise,
By mountains pil’d on mountains, to the skies?
Heav’n still with laughter the vain toil surveys,
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise.
  Know, all the good that individuals find,
Or God and nature meant to mere mankind,
Reason’s whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
Lie in three words, health, peace, and competence
But health consists with temperance alone;
And peace, oh virtue! peace is all thy own.
The good or bad the gifts of fortune gain;
But these less taste them, as they worse obtain.
Say, in pursuit of profit or delight,
Who risk the most, that take wrong means, or right?
Of vice or virtue, whether blest or curst,
Which meets contempt, or which compassion first?
Count all th’ advantage prosp’rous vice attains,
’Tis but what virtue flies from and disdains:
And grant the bad what happiness they would,
One they must want, which is, to pass for good.
  Oh blind to truth, and God’s whole scheme below,
Who fancy bliss to vice, to virtue woe!
Who sees and follows that great scheme the best,
Best knows the blessing, and will most be blest.
But fools the good alone unhappy call,
For ills or accidents that chance to all.
See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just!
See god-like Turenne prostrate on the dust!
See Sidney bleeds amid the martial strife!
Was this their virtue, or contempt of life?
Say, was it virtue, more tho’ heav’n ne’er gave,
Lamented Digby! sunk thee to the grave?
Tell me, if virtue made the son expire,
Why, full of days and honour, lives the sire?
Why drew Marseilles’ good bishop purer breath,
When nature sicken’d and each gale was death!
Or why so long (in life if long can be)
Lent heav’n a parent to the poor and me?
  What makes all physical or moral ill?
There deviates nature, and here wanders will.
God sends not ill; if rightly understood,
Or partial ill is universal good,
Or change admits, or nature lets it fall,
Short, and but rare, ’till man improv’d it all.
We just as wisely might of heav’n complain
That righteous Abel was destroy’d by Cain,
As that the virtuous son is ill at ease,
When his lewd father gave the dire disease.
Think we, like some weak prince, th’ eternal cause
Prone for his fav’rites to reverse his laws?
  Shall burning Ætna, if a sage requires,
Forget to thunder, and recall her fires?
On air or sea new motions be imprest,
Oh blameless Bethel! to relieve thy breast?
When the loose mountain trembles from on high
Shall gravitation cease, if you go by?
Or some old temple, nodding to its fall,
For Chartres’ head reserve the hanging wall?
  But still this world (so fitted for the knave)
Contents us not. A better shall we have?
A kingdom of the just then let it be:
But first consider how those just agree.
The good must merit God’s peculiar care;
But who, but God, can tell us who they are?
One thinks on Calvin heav’n’s own spirit fell;
Another deems him instrument of hell;
If Calvin feel heav’n’s blessing, or its rod,
This cries there is, and that, there is no God.
What shocks one part will edify the rest,
Nor with one system can they all be blest.
The very best will variously incline,
And what rewards your virtue, punish mine.
Whatever is, is right.—This world, ’tis true,
Was made for Cæsar—but for Titus too;
And which more blest, who chain’d his country, say,
Or he whose virtue sigh’d to lose a day?
  ‘But sometimes virtue starves, while vice is fed.’
What then? is the reward of virtue bread?
That vice may merit, ’tis the price of toil;
The knave deserves it, when he tills the soil,
The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main,
Where folly fights for kings, or dives for gain.
The good man may be weak, be indolent;
Nor is his claim to plenty, but content.
But grant him riches, your demand is o’er?
‘No, shall the good want health, the good want pow’r?’
Add health and pow’r, and ev’ry earthly thing,
‘Why bounded pow’r? why private? why no king?
Nay, why external for internal giv’n?
Why is not man a God, and earth a heav’n?’
Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive
God gives enough, while he has more to give:
Immense the pow’r, immense were the demand;
Say, at what part of nature will they stand?
  What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy,
The soul’s calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy,
Is virtue’s prize: a better would you fix?
Then give humility a coach and six,
Justice a conq’ror’s sword, or truth a gown,
Or public spirit its great cure, a crown.
Weak, foolish man! will heav’n reward us there
With the same trash mad mortals wish for here?
The boy and man an individual makes,
Yet sigh’st thou now for apples and for cakes?
Go, like the Indian, in another life
Expect thy dog, thy bottle, and thy wife,
As well as dream such trifles are assign’d,
As toys and empires, for a god-like mind.
Rewards, that either would to virtue bring
No joy, or be destructive of the thing:
How oft by these at sixty are undone
The virtues of a saint at twenty-one!
  To whom can riches give repute, or trust,
Content, or pleasure, but the good and just?
Judges and senates have been bought for gold,
Esteem and love were never to be sold.
Oh fool! to think God hates the worthy mind,
The lover and the love of human-kind,
Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear,
Because he wants a thousand pounds a year.
  Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
Fortune in men has some small diff’rence mad’
One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade;
The cobler apron’d, and the parson gown’d,
The frier hooded, and the monarch crown’d.
‘What differ more (you cry) than crown and cowl?’
I’ll tell you, friend! a wise man and a fool.
You’ll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,
Or, cobler-like, the parson will be drunk,
Worth makes the man, and want of it, the fellow;
The rest is all but leather or prunella.
  Stuck o’er with titles and hung round with strings,
That thou may’st be by kings, or whores of kings.
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race,
In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece:
But by your fathers’ worth if your’s you rate,
Count me those only who were good and great.
Go! if your ancient, but ignoble blood
Has crept thro’ scoundrels ever since the flood,
Go! and pretend your family is young;
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long.
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards,
  Look next on greatness; say where greatness lies.
‘Where, but among the heroes and the wise?’
Heroes are much the same, the point’s agreed,
From Macedonia’s madman to the Swede;
The whole strange purpose of their lives, to find
Or make, an enemy of all mankind!
Not one looks backward, onward still he goes,
Yet ne’er looks forward farther than his nose.
No less alike the politic and wise;
All sly slow things, with circumspective eyes:
Men in their loose unguarded hours they take,
Not that themselves are wise, but others weak.
But grant that those can conquer, these can cheat;
’Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great:
Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave,
Is but the more a fool, the more a knave.
Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
Or failing, smiles in exile or in chains,
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed.
  What’s fame? a fancy’d life in others’ breath,
A thing beyond us, ev’n before our death.
Just what you hear, you have, and what’s unknown
The same (my lord) if Tully’s, or your own.
All that we feel of it begins and ends
In the small circle of our foes or friends;
To all beside as much an empty shade
An Eugene living, as a Cæsar dead;
Alike or when, or where they shone, or shine,
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine.
A wit’s a feather, and a chief a rod;
An honest man’s the noblest work of God.
Fame but from death a villain’s name can save,
As justice tears his body from the grave;
When what t’ oblivion better were resign’d,
Is hung on high, to poison half mankind.
All fame is foreign, but of true desert;
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart:
One self approving hour whole years out-weighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exil’d feels,
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
  In parts superior what advantage lies?
Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise?
’Tis but to know how little can be known;
To see all others’ faults, and feel your own:
Condemn’d in bus’ness or in arts to drudge,
Without a second, or without a judge:
Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land?
All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
Painful preëminence! yourself to view
Above life’s weakness, and its comforts too.
  Bring then these blessings to a strict account;
Make fair deductions; see to what they ’mount:
How much of other each is sure to cost;
How each for other oft is wholly lost;
How inconsistent greater goods with these;
How sometimes life is risqu’d, and always ease:
Think, and if still the things thy envy call,
Say, would’st thou be the man to whom they fall?
To sigh for ribbands if thou art so silly,
Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy.
Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life;
Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus’ wife.
If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin’d,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind:
Or ravish’d with the whistling of a name,
See Cromwell, damn’d to everlasting fame!
If all, united, thy ambition call,
From ancient story learn to scorn them all.
There, in the rich, the honour’d, fam’d and great,
See the false scale of happiness complete!
In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay,
How happy those to ruin, these betray.
Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows,
From dirt and sea-weed as proud Venice rose;
In each how guilt and greatness equal ran,
And all that rais’d the hero, sunk the man:
Now Europe’s laurels on their brows behold,
But stain’d with blood, or ill-exchang’d for gold:
Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease,
Or infamous for plunder’d provinces.
Oh, wealth ill-fated! which no act of fame
E’er taught to shine, or sanctify’d from shame!
What greater bliss attends their close of life?
Some greedy minion, or imperious wife,
The trophy’d arches, story’d halls invade,
And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade.
Alas! not dazzled with their noon-tide ray,
Compute the morn and ev’ning to the day;
The whole amount of that enormous fame,
A tale, that blends their glory with their shame!
  Know then this truth, enough for man to know,
‘Virtue alone is happiness below.’
The only point where human bliss stands still,
And tastes the good without the fall to ill;
Where only merit constant pay receives,
Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives;
The joy unequal’d, if its end it gain,
And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Without satiety, tho’ e’er so bless’d,
And but more relish’d as the more distress’d:
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears,
Less pleasing far than virtue’s very tears;
Good, from each object, from each place acquir’d,
For ever exercis’d, yet never tir’d;
Never elated, while one man’s oppress’d;
Never dejected, while another’s bless’d;
And where no wants, no wishes can remain,
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
  See the sole bliss heav’n could on all bestow!
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know:
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind,
The bad must miss, the good, untaught, will find;
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
But looks through nature up to nature’s God:
Pursues that chain which links th’ immense design,
Joins heav’n and earth, and mortal and divine;
Sees, that no being any bliss can know,
But touches some above, and some below;
Learns, from this union of the rising whole,
The first, last purpose of the human soul;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began,
All end, in love of God, and love of man.
  For him alone, hope leads from goal to goal,
And opens still, and opens on his soul;
’Till lengthen’d on to faith, and unconfin’d,
It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind.
He sees, why nature plants in man alone
Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown:
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind
Are giv’n in vain, but what they seek they find)
Wise is her present; she connects in this
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss;
At once his own bright prospect to be blest,
And strongest motive to assist the rest.
  Self-love thus push’d to social, to divine,
Gives thee to make thy neighbour’s blessing thine.
Is this too little for the boundless heart?
Extend it, let thy enemies have part:
Grasp the whole worlds of reason, life, and sense,
In one close system of benevolence:
Happier as kinder, in whate’er degree,
And height of bliss but height of charity.
  God loves from whole to parts: but human soul
Must rise from individual to the whole.
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake
As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake;
The centre mov’d, a circle strait succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads;
Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace;
His country next; and next all human race;
Wide and more wide, th’ o’erflowings of the mind
Take ev’ry creature in, of ev’ry kind;
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest,
And heav’n beholds its image in his breast.
  Come then, my friend, my genius, come along;
Oh master of the poet, and the song!
And while the muse now stoops, or now ascends,
To man’s low passions, or their glorious ends,
Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise,
To fall with dignity, with temper rise;
Form’d by thy converse, happily to steer
From grave to gay, from lively to severe;
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
Intent to reason, or polite to please.
Oh! while along the stream of time thy name
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame;
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?
When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose,
Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes,
Shall then this verse to future age pretend
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend?
That, urg’d by thee, I turn’d the tuneful art
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart;
For wit’s false mirror held up nature’s light;
Shew’d erring pride, whatever is, is right;
That reason, passion, answer one great aim;
That true self-love and social are the same;
That virtue only makes our bliss below;
And all our knowledge is, ourselves to know.
 



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